The good thing about this project is that the material is free and there is an abundance of it conveniently located in the lane way beside my studio. But every time I go down to collect more boxes, I imagine my decorative tent/space located next to these dumpsters instead of out in the landscapes for which I am producing the work. It's something to do with a gentleness of simply moving materials around and the transformation of that which is abandoned into something beautiful, it's the contrast and the potential for unexpected discover that makes that space feel right. At the start of a project there are infinite possibilities and this week in particular my mind is like a saucepan full of popcorn ideas bursting and bouncing all over the studio. There is so much popcorn the lids coming off and its a big mess, but this is the nature of beginnings.
Most of the cardboard we have collected is cut down into sheets and patchworked together with tape, to make sections of walls to work with. But an occasional pieces are deemed 'special' and these get put aside for potential poetic functions later.
One of the first things i was curious about was 'how can it stand up?' With no engineering skills to draw on I figured the simple pole structure used in old style tents was a good place to begin, so I set about experimenting with methods to hold walls up. The results were predictably mediocre and clearly a better support structure was needed throughout.
I am planning on using extensive decoration inside, so then played with the possibility that the decoration could form part of the structure. Im thinking something along the lines of Islamic pattern work, with the interwoven latice work of the design being cut out and stuck on to the wall to form a second layer inside.
One of the first attempts ended up looking like this..
I can't decide if this has the potential to be interesting if it covers the whole of the interior or just plan fussymessycrappy looking. Some of the other unresolved efforts have been to use curvilinear patterns instead, or cardboard marquetry, or just the pin pricks, or nothing, or make an earth carpet inside, or a carpet pattern cut out of the ceiling that lets the light cast a carpet pattern on the earth, etc etc. All of this then lead me back to thinking about the structure again. The main thing I want it to avoid is looking like a cubby house.
Although I do like how this cubby house has amazing weeds growing around it - it feels like its been there for years. I started making a model of a tent and it occurred to me that one way I could have the tent feel small outside and large inside would be to create it on a slope. The front would be small and the structure would fan out wider and taller towards the back. Now that I had a space to think around it made a few things clearer, most importantly if i wanted to use light entering through pinpricks or cut out patterns to create patterns inside the space, I couldn't have a gapping open entrance. So i made a mock paper curtain.
It looked much better when I photographed it from the inside. I could see this being interesting.
But at the end of a week of messiness there are a few major things to think about. Is a cardboard tent just a cardboard tent? If the weather is humid will it be suffocating to be inside the space. If its windy can I make it strong enough. Should work at an Environmental Art Biennale deal more directly with the landscape/elements/environment. How can I make something which is more gently integrated into its site. I keep thinking about making a space to view the changing light, but get stuck at James Turrell's skyscapes (more on him later). I want to use elements of light earth and maybe air, how can i do this? Is the decoration getting in the way?
The state of my studio really reflects the state of my mind and the unstate of the work.
But as Samuel Beckett said "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better"